Jeremy Corbyn rebukes Tom Watson over claim Labour gripped by 'virulent' bullying

Posted On: 
23rd February 2019

Jeremy Corbyn has denied bullying exists on a "wide scale" in the Labour Party following the resignation of nine MPs who cited rising anti-Semitism under his leadership.

Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson

Mr Corbyn said there was "no place for harshness, bullying or anything else in the party" when challenged by Sky News about comments made by Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson.

The Labour leader said: "To tell you the truth, I don't believe it exists on a wide scale.

Joan Ryan blames 'culture of anti-semitism' as she becomes eighth MP to quit Labour

John McDonnell backs Tom Watson and says Labour must do more to tackle anti-semitism

Jeremy Corbyn warned more Labour MPs preparing to quit party over Brexit and anti-semitism

"Where there is bad behaviour, we deal with it. Where there is a problem, we deal with it."

Former minister Ian Austin quit Labour yesterday, saying he was "ashamed" of the party under Mr Corbyn's leadership and 'appalled' by the offence it had caused to Jews.

Mr Austin blamed a "culture of extremism, anti-Semitism and intolerance" as he became the ninth MP to leave the party in a week.

Mr Corbyn's latest comments follow Mr Watson’s claim earlier in the week that "a virulent form of identity politics has seized the party".

But Mr Corbyn dismissed the deputy's comments, saying: "I disagree with him, because I do not wish to be in a party where there's any bullying."

He added: "I'll be speaking to Tom Watson in the very near future to talk about that."

Mr Corbyn will today take aim at the new Indpendent Group of MPs in a speech in Broxtowe, where Labour is targetting the slim majority held by one defector from the Conservatives, Anna Soubry.

He will say: "Over the last few years, Labour's membership has grown dramatically and set our party on a new course. I understand why that has been difficult for some.

"As leader of the party it's necessary of course to listen to the concerns of our MPs as well as our members and affiliates.

"I'm disappointed that a small number of Labour MPs have decided to leave our party and join forces with disaffected Tories, who say they have no problem with austerity that has plunged thousands into desperate poverty and insecurity."